The database on the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been of long-standing concern for advocates of the implementation of judgments. The old database required perseverance, experience and no little wisdom. Whilst most information was available, it was not always discoverable. Human rights civil society has long advocated for changes in the database and its integration into the HUDOC system. We therefore welcome the news that the Committee of Ministers has launched the HUDOC-EXEC database.
What are the improvements brought by HUDOC-EXEC and how may they be improved further? Ramute Remezaite (EIN), Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska (EIN Secretary, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) and myself conducted a test drive to share with the EIN community. Here is our verdict:
• The new database is much more user friendly.
• It’s a one-stop-shop that provides all relevant information about a single case in one place. This allows easy and systematic access to submissions of all relevant parties (member states, ‘Rule 9’ submissions from NGOs and NHRIs) and decisions of the Committee of Ministers. This is a very positive improvement.
• The search engine, similar in style and mode of operation to the HUDOC database of ECtHR judgments, allows searches focusing on countries, articles of the Conventions and human rights violation themes. It has now become much easier to assess thematic shortcomings in implementation across countries as well as which issues suffer from slow implementation in a single state.
• It is now much easier to find systematised information on closed cases. With the previous database this was very difficult, so this is a great improvement.
Needs further improvement
• Full information seems to be missing for some of the cases we searched on. We hope that this is due to the work in progress nature of the database.
• The new database uses labels of lead and repetitive cases. But we are unable to access full information on individual repetitive cases when clicking on them. We hope it is only a matter of time before these appear on the database.
• It is not possible to search for pilot judgments. As monitoring the effective execution of pilot judgments is of utmost importance, it should be possible to generate searches on pilot judgments with respect to all countries.
• Thematic searches can be improved further, and it is not at all times clear what the difference is between themes/domains and violations.
• The search engine does not include information on the payment status of just satisfaction claims.
• The search engine does not allow the implementation status of general and individual measures to be searched for separately.
• In some cases, unilateral declarations appear on the database. We would welcome all unilateral declarations to be in the database (and involvement of the Committee of Ministers in their supervision). But when they appear, unilateral declarations are listed under the heading of friendly settlements. As unilateral declarations are clearly not friendly settlements this is a confusing way of organising the information.
• We would welcome the better integration of the HUDOC and HUDOC-EXEC databases. It would be very helpful for lawyers litigating cases to see the status of execution of similar repetitive cases in a one-stop search engine. This would also increase the awareness of the ECtHR with respect to the execution/non-execution status before further improvements that of repetitive judgments they address.
We believe that the voices of NGOs and lawyers have played a part in the revamping of the database. We look forward to further improvements that would enable us to fully track the status of judgments and thus enhance our ability to champion their implementation.
EIN would like to compile feedback from our members and partners. Let us know your feedback by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Başak Çalı, EIN Chair
By Ramute Remezaite, EIN, and Shirley Pouget, Open Society Justice Initiative
Dear EIN friends
It is our great pleasure to share the recent developments relating to the European Implementation Network (EIN) with you. Initially conceived as a project of Judgment Watch, with the support of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), the EIN has been registered as an association in Strasbourg in January 2017 to start its life as an independent organization dedicated to supporting and monitoring implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). EIN is currently governed by a Board, comprised of six prominent academics, litigators and NGOs: Professor Başak Çalı (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin), Professor Philip Leach (School of Law, Middlesex University, London), Nigel Warner (ILGA-Europe Advisor on Council of Europe, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Legal Resources Centre Moldova and Judgment Watch.
Thanks to a grant awarded by the Oak Foundation, the EIN is now in a position to hire its Director, who we expect to be in place by the Summer. With its permanent presence in Strasbourg, the EIN will not only serve as a bridge between domestic NGOs but also contribute to strengthening the influence of civil society in Strasbourg.
EIN’s effective cooperation with human rights lawyers, NGOs and communities is at the very heart of its work. Dedicated to building and strengthening the ability of domestic groups to contribute to better implementation of ECtHR judgments, EIN aims to become a vibrant and diverse network of NGOs and lawyers from all 47 member states of the Council of Europe (CoE), with its Secretariat in Strasbourg. We believe that the greater the participation of EIN’s members and partners, the greater the value of the network. In the current climate of the increasing resistance to full and effective implementation of ECtHR judgments and the spreading of populist and authoritarian ideas across the continent, there is a strong need for civil society groups to come together to share knowledge and experiences in addressing the existing challenges both domestically and on the regional level.
The EIN has been cooperating with numerous litigating NGOs and lawyers from across the CoE region to date and invites civil society organizations working towards effective implementation of ECtHR judgments to get in touch to discuss collaboration. Organizations and individuals can join the EIN by becoming members or by partnering with the EIN. EIN members have a right to participate in EIN General Assembly meetings, receive information about EIN activities and actively contribute to its development. EIN partners can participate in and benefit from various activities, such as trainings and implementation briefings (without becoming full members). You can find more information on how to join the EIN here.
We also greatly value our existing fruitful cooperation with a number of CoE bodies and their representatives, who play a crucial role in pushing member states for effective implementation of ECtHR judgments domestically. Following the well-received EIN launch event at the ECtHR on 2 December 2016, attended by over a hundred representatives of the CoE officials, civil society and academia, where the increasing importance of the collective responsibility for implementation was reiterated, we hope for even stronger cooperation with the CoE bodies in our efforts to assist and encourage member states to enhance their domestic implementation efforts. We believe that more transparency, inclusiveness and collaboration are of paramount importance in response to the deepening human rights crisis in Europe.